Thursday, March 09, 2006

Social Engineering Experiments

Now that the smoke has cleared the ideological battlefield, the Iraq War shows itself to be a grand experiment in social engineering. The war’s primary goal was to create a secular society embracing the Neoliberal economic model friendly to U. S. interests. Some cynically call it modernization. Supporting that economic model would be a democratically elected government of those who fully embrace the Neoliberal economic model. Reconstruction in these terms means spending enough money to assure friendly candidates get elected and stay elected. The result would be an outpost and beacon to other countries within the region to embrace global capitalism as a newly found religion, and relegating Islam to a subsidiary role in their cultures.

Now, we see even the most ardent intellectual supporters of the war finally announcing that the plan all along was establishing a liberal democracy friendly to U. S. interests in the region. Yes, we still hear the leaders of the war trot out the tired and worn out rhetoric of how bad Saddam was; and the intent was merely to overthrow a tyrant who was friendly to terrorism; and the sooner the better. This rhetoric is no longer designed to convince skeptics, but to keep the convinced on track, on message, and on board.

But what of these grand experiments in social engineering? Does the Iraq War prove once and for all that they are not possible?

The poor execution of the Bush Administration in conducting the war helps obscure the answers to social engineering questions. One can always say, as the neoconservatives are currently saying, that if the planning and execution had been better, then the result would have been achieved.

Fresh off the disappointments during the Nineties in turning former Soviet Bloc states into model liberal democratic states via uncontrolled capitalist experiments, the U. S. blundered into yet another failed social engineering experiment, despite the historical evidence that these massive experiments never turn out as planned. Now, we hear quibbles about whether Iraq is having a civil war. Let us not put too fine a definition on the current state of Iraq, but call it by the appropriate term: bloody chaos.

Of course, to say all this is merely to critique and rehash the obvious. Two classes of people compete for the elusive benefits of social engineering: the people or an elite ruling class. The U. S. should remain an activist world citizen. The question is for whom should the U. S. be an activist?

The world has become a lethal and toxic place where the extinction of the human species is possible if not probable. Every human is now truly stuck with the consequences from the mistakes of others. Yet the U. S. continues to fail in providing practical social engineering for its own people. Even the concept of the free market has gone by the wayside in favor of ruthless crony capitalism. Capitalism is also a social engineering experiment: one that results in haves and have nots along with massive disruption to the lives of those whom have not.

The economic needs of all the world’s people need to be met. The large scale Neoliberal social engineering experiments keep failing on an equally grand scale when it comes to meeting those needs. Neoliberals fail to notice that one can be an individualist and altruist at the same time. Claiming the political and economic rights of the individual does not mean one needs to be an egoist in the Neoliberal manner.

Let’s look at the extremes. The Capitalist engages in social engineering every much as the Marxist. The Capitalist touts the virtues of egoism. The Capitalist engineers society to support that egoism regardless of the consequences. The Capitalist denies he is engaged in social engineering. The Marxist touts the virtues of individualism and altruism. The Marxist claims that all people have political and economic rights. The Marxist admits that successful social engineering is a prerequisite to achieving the economic and political security of all people.

The Iraq War shows who has the more reliable motives and methods between these two extremes.

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